Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Sol-Angel & The Hadley Dreams": Solange's Masterpiece

Beyoncé's surface level infatuation with Diana Ross is well documented. Her sister Solange has actually listened and reworked the sound print of that Motown siren for Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (2008),  her second LP after 2003's Solo Star.

The title draws its name from a street in Houston, Texas where her Svengali father, Matthew Knowles, had his recording studio. The record was a welcome sucker punch to my musical senses, evidence that there are still surprises left in music today.

Caution, this isn't just a retro makeover via stolen soul from the U.K. kewpie doll assembly line of Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Adele. Solange succeeds due to marrying her own personal experiences through her songwriting, with assistance from fresh and familiar talent. Known producers include the U.K. dance-pop drivers The Freemasons, Mark Ronson (the man behind the success of Winehouse's pastiche), and The Neptunes (who end their creative drought here). The first single "I Decided, Part 1" is full of gutsy glam and powdery soul, listeners will undoubtedly remove their headphones with the sugary remains of this banger in their ears.

The Neptunes, who've been lacking the last few years, redeemed themselves with this day-glo soul number they produced. Yet, the relative newcomer Jack Splash, along with the established, yet unsung, producing duo Soulshock & Karlin nail some of Sol-Angel's best and defining moments.

See "T.O.N.Y." ("The Other Night Why"), where Splash arranges soulful lines of guitar and smooth bass to grant Solange the canvas to assertively, and sensitively, bring across the fallout of a one night stand. The romantic conflict isn't healed, thankfully, but playfully cast on "Sandcastle Disco," produced by Soulshock & Karlin. Lyrically, Solange manages to be both the bulletproof heroine and helpless damsel in the name of love. All of these ideas over a cool, hastened back beat and melodic pop swatches make a recipe for aural infatuation.

"Sandcastle Disco
Directed By: Solange

Solange's voice is the star real star of Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams. She occupies tarty curiosity on "Would've Been the One," whereas confusion colors her delivery on "Valentine's Day." The chatter of Solange lacking vocally are from individuals in need of re-examining the black female approach to song, because Solange is all nuance and expression here. Five out of five stars.-QH

[Editor's Note: For more information on Solange, visit]


S. Flemming said...

I REALLY love this album. One of the best I've heard this year.

dayuhangkayumanggi said...

A greatly underrated CD...loads better than big sis Beyonce's "I Am...Sasha Fierce"

Still loving "I Decided" & "Sandcastle Disco" after all these years